I remember vividly and fondly that my maternal grandfather and I argued regularly and fervently. Quite often it was about politics, and this was when I was 10, 11, 12. I remember me shouting out several times, "If you think it's so bad here, why don't you go back to Russia!" And we loved it and each other.
It was a more innocent time, and a less politically correct time, when people engaged in heated debates without fear that it would offend or lead to violence. This was part of the fun of watching the Siskel/Ebert movie reviews, and on a much milder scale, it is why I am such a faithful fan of the Friday night debates between Mark Shields and David Brooks on the PBS Newshour, or some of the back and forth on Morning Joe. But this is wuss-like stuff compared to the good old days of Argumentative America. I know there is no such word, but it's as if we have been timidified, pounded into submission, so that in places like Fox News and MSNBC, it is more likely to find all the arguing one-sided.
I also have fond memories of some of the fake celebrity feuds that sometimes went on for years. Jack Benny and Fred Allen, Milton Berle and Henny Youngman, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. All of these heated rivalries were played for laughs, and the more insulting they were, the more fans loved it. Now, we tiptoe around invective unless the anger is real.
I think we've lost something in this homogenizing process. Watch some of the heated debates in the British House of Commons. The rival politicians are known to often get together for a warm beer at the pub afterwards. Our rival politicians are not nearly as free or colorful in their interactions, and hardly talk to each other outside the floors of the House and Senate.
Maybe what I'm really complaining about is that it is getting harder and harder to be a grumpy old man. But I'm going to work on it, so watch out!
And if you know what's good for you, you'd better check out my other blog at: http://MoneyloveBlog.com